Life Wellbeing The foods that give your immune system a shot in the arm
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The foods that give your immune system a shot in the arm

yoghurt
Organic yoghurt can be a better prevention tool for colds that swallowing handfuls of Vitamin C tablets. Photo: Getty
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Sniffling, coughing and sneezing are familiar sounds this time of year and cold fighting becomes an art for many.

Registered nutritionist Anthony Power has urged people to plan their diet to help keep the immune system strong.

“The devil is in the detail, like when you want to improve your sleep or exercise you need to plan to do it,” he told ABC Radio Brisbane’s Rebecca Levingston.

“The flu shot alone isn’t going to stop it. We have to take ownership of the immune system and break the cycle.”

Dr Power said besides getting enough sleep each night and seeking off-peak sunlight to raise vitamin D levels, food was high on the list to help fight colds.

“A majority of our immune cells are not in our spleen but in our gut, our digestive system.

“Each week families should look to plan their food and keep a list on the fridge to know what they needed to stock up on.

“You must be consistent though; if you have a big dose of vitamin C straight up, your body will pee it out, three-quarters of it straight away.”

Vitamin A and probiotics

Dr Power said gut health was a good starting point for defending colds.

“Fermented foods are a great way to get good bacteria in the gut and boost your overall system,” he said.

“If you’re in the vicious cycle of antibiotics, then getting more good bacteria in your tummy with yoghurt is also important.”

Suggested foods:

  • Sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha
  • Organic plain full-fat yoghurt with live bacteria
  • Green leafy salads with olive oil and lemon
  • Carrots, pumpkin and sweet potato

Vitamin C and foods to aid recovery

Dr Power said while vitamin C could aid fighting colds, it was important to include non-citrus forms of food.

“Look for non-traditional or non-citrus like cabbage, broccoli, chilli and parsley; they’re great so you can play around with that,” he said.

“Getting your spices into the food helps too, like turmeric and cinnamon.

“Add garlic to what you’re eating, in stews and soups, as that can really help too.”

Suggested foods:

  • Make chicken soup: Fry onion in butter with oregano, thyme and rosemary before adding a whole chook to a large saucepan and cover with water; simmer for 90 minutes to make a broth.
  • Blade steak with onions, two cans of tomatoes, garlic and vegetables creates a healthy stew.
  • Roast cauliflower drizzled in olive oil and herbs.

What about whisky?

Despite the wives’ tales, Dr Power said alcohol was not a good choice in building immunity.

Although the theory sounded good, he added that alcohol could distract the body’s defences.

“It’s going to give you that sensation of clearing the sinus, but unfortunately too much alcohol will inflame the system,” he said.

– ABC

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